|Guy Pierre Falkenau|
2 Benton View
Newcastle upon Tyne,Tyne and Wear NE12 7JJ
|My father Rene Falkenau was born in Antwerp,Belgium in 1911.His father Franz Falkenau (born 1886) was the son of an industrial diamond manufacturer and jeweller named Sigmund Falkenau from Prague in the Czech Republic.In 1901 Franz was sent to Antwerp,Belgium to learn diamond cutting and polishing in the business of a family friend,Adolphe Adler.Adolphe had four daughters,Helene,Emmy,Irma and Rene.In 1910 Franz married Irma and took up permanent residence in Belgium.When World War 1 broke out in 1914,Franz found himself,as a Czech citizen conscriptedinto the Austro-Hungarian army and sent to fight on the Italian front,stationed at Krampsach in the Tyrol.For four years Irma was compelled to live amongst those who were at war with her own country.During this time,Georgette,a daughter was born in 1917 in Vienna.At the end of the war the family returned to Antwerp,where Franz went on to become a successful diamond merchant,buying out his father in law's business and becoming President of the Diamond Club.However the outbreak of war in 1939 was to throw the life of the family into turmoil again.Rene volunteered for service in the Belgian army and as the German armies advanced into Belgium,Franz,Irma and Georgette became refugees in France.Following the fall of Dunkirk Rene escaped to England only to return to France two days later in the hope of rejoining free French forces who were still fighting and making contact with his family.As his unit and other forces were forced south he was able to find his family,first at La Roche Posay in the Loire Valley where the family had sometimes holidayed and later in Nice where his family rented a villa.Having been demobilised after the armistice,Rene became a 'Commissioner for Refugees'with the Belgian legation in Monte Carlo.But this concealed his real work assisting in the running of an escape line to get French and Belgian troops out of France to England,where they could continue the war.He remained in contact with his family for over two years until in early 1942 he was forced to escape himself,having been tipped off that he was facing arrest.Tearfully he said farewell to his family on Nice railway station.It was to be the last time he saw them.Having arrived in England he rejoined the Belgian army.Stationed at Leamington Spa in the English midlands he met and almost two years later married an English girl named Doris Hancock.Their wedding took place in January 1944 in her home town of Gateshead ,Co Durham.Two aunts of Rene,who had managed to flee the continent,kept the news from him until after his honeymoon that his parents and sister had been arrested by the Vichy police and handed over to the Gestapo.In October 1943 they were deported from Drancy,near Paris to Austwitzwhere they died.|
I am trying to establish the history of the family and what became of other family members in the Czech Republic and Belgium.
Any information would be gratefully received